August 20, 2009

Working with Ladders

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When you are undertaking DIY jobs like painting and wall-papering you will often need assistance when working in high or difficult to reach areas. In these cases, ladders are an essential piece of equipment. In an interior setting, a simple set of stepladders will often suffice, but for outdoor jobs – like clearing guttering, a larger ladder will be required.

Many people will own their own ladders, and in these cases buying a good quality ladder is always recommended. Modern, lightweight, aluminium ladders have almost entirely superceded their wooden ancestors which can be dangerous. If you only need a ladder for a one-off job, they can be hired or borrowed – but always bear in mind that a small outlay is better than climbing on a makeshift frame and getting injured.

Things to bear in mind when purchasing a ladder:

  • End caps or foot pads are advantageous to prevent slipping.
  • Adjustablility should be a prime consideration – choose something that can be used in various settings and also compacts for storage.
  • Stepladders with a large top step are handy for placing tools and cans of paint (never for standing on).
  • Treads should be wide and have ample space between rungs for your feet – especially in overlapping sections.
  • Extendable sections should lock into place.
  • Lightweight aluminium is preferable to traditional wood.

Considerations for Wooden Ladders

  • Look for splits and make sure all the rungs are tight before using a wooden ladder.
  • A twisted ladder will be unstable & rock when against a straight wall.
  • Woodworm in a ladder can cause accidents. A ladder with any signs of sponginess or rot should be scrapped.
  • Apply a finishing oil or varnish to worn areas to prevent drying out.
  • Never paint a ladder as this could cover signs of damage.

Ladder Safety

Dangerous ladders cause more injuries per year than faulty equipment. Follow these rules to ensure your safety at all times:

  • The condition of the ground will affect how to set up a ladder. Hard surfaces will need non-slip end caps or feet. If you’re working on soft ground, you’ll need to place a board with a batten attached under the feet to keep the ladder in place. A sandbag or bag filled with earth placed at the base will also help to reduce the likelihood of slipping.
  • Never lean the ladder against glass – as it is likely to smash. Also, never lean it against gutters, soil pipes or drain pipes.
  • Never climb higher than four rungs from the top of a tall ladder, as you will not be able to balance properly and the handholds will be too low and out of reach.
  • Dry wet boots before climbing up a ladder.
  • Don’t use a ladder to create a horizonal walkway uless the manufacturer states otherwise – even with a board on it.
  • Use your common sense – if it feels dangerous then it definitely is!

Carrying a Ladder

Ladders are often heavy and difficult to handle. If carried wrongly you could end up damaging property or yourself.

Carry a ladder upright and not over your shoulder. Stand the ladder vertically and lean the top of the ladder back against your shoulder, with your knees bent. Hold one rung low down and another at head height, then straighten your knees.

Construction Chemicals UK Ltd are dedicated to helping professionals and DIYers find the right materials for their job, whether than be large renovation works or simple Sunday afternoon jobs. Not only this, we also stock a large collection of safety products to ensure that risk of injury or damage is minimised. Visit our online store to see what we can offer you or join our DIY Forum to post questions and find answers to any of your construction & DIY queries.

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